As adults get older, the methods to care for them and the planning that goes into that, becomes more complex. But one thing that doesn’t change is the importance of preventative visits, especially with the role these visits play in an aging adult’s care plan.
According to Dr. Anita Bowie, chief nursing officer at Menorah Park, and Shalom Plotkin, owner of Right at Home, both in Beachwood, wellness visits and preventative care are a big part of developing a senior’s care plan.
“(Preventative care) is an important part of aging because as we get older, our systems kind of deteriorate and our lifestyle changes, so you want to be proactive with the changes,” Bowie said. “By being proactive and preventative, you’re going to prevent further incidents from happening and have longevity in your life.”
Plotkin related preventative health care to tuning up one’s car.
“It’s like, why do we need preventative work on our cars? The reason is you only have one body and it is ours to care for,” he said. “A couple of screenings and tests can catch a problem before it starts. It’s one of the best things we can do for ourselves.”
Wellness visits and preventative care can catch almost any health problem under the sun from cancer to diabetes, the professionals said.
“For example, going to the dermatologist might not be fun or doing the cleanout for a colonoscopy,” Plotkin said. “But, when you get up to a certain age or if you’re in an at-risk population, this can make all the difference in the world. When you go for our annual (check-up), it’s important to check for any changes as you want to know the good and the bad.”
Bowie said wellness checks can help seniors know the current status of health.
“You can know your current status, what your BMI is and making sure you’re taking correct medications – those parts are important,” she explained. “Vaccinations are also important to prevent flu because a lot of those deaths for older individuals stem from the flu. And when you get pneumonia, it leads to other issues. So, if you can prevent things from happening, that’s the foundation of (care planning).”
Both professionals said preventative care helps inform caregivers and how they go about serving their clients.
“We learn all kinds of things, and some of it isn’t exactly obvious,” Plotkin stated. “But, I’ve discovered that clients who don’t hear as well fall more. You can learn all kinds of things. You want all of your ins and outs checked regularly. We work out a plan of care individually for each client and it’s quite detailed. It’s not just about taking the right pills at the right time. These regular checks do make a difference.”
Bowie noted, “We learn what is going on with our residents. Two sets of ears are going to hear it better and understand what is going on. We use the information that we get from these screenings and develop a care plan in collaboration with physicians, families and residents.”
Bowie added this support is especially important for seniors living with memory conditions.
“If they have dementia, they’re going to forget what they’re told,” she said. “And even if they don’t have dementia, it is still a bit hard to follow. They’re just not as sharp as they used to be because of the aging process.”
Because aging can be a struggle for some, it’s important to include family members in wellness checks and care planning.
“It’s always helpful to have one person quarterback the appointments,” Plotkin said. “Some people try to set them up for a certain day of the week or if you miss the appointment, you might not be able to get them in for another few months. It’s helpful for people to even put out an ‘at a glance’ calendar for aging adults to help keep track of appointments.”
Bowie said, “Family members should always go to appointments with their older parents. I mean, when my husband goes to the hospital, so do I. Families need to know what is going on. When someone tells you something, you may hear it differently than someone else. Everyone hears and understands things differently.”